There may be so many unanswered questions in the heart of believers regarding long suffering. End to our prolonged suffering depends on the transformation of our hearts. Psalmist had captured the transformation that took place in the life of believers as they passed through the valley of Baca which is figuratively a valley of suffering or weeping. We are always impressed by the end result but fail to concentrate on the transformation.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.” – Psalms 84: 5-6
Here the Psalmist talked about the people who had changed their helpless situation in to a good situation. Even Jesus Himself had reiterated this in His Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Mathew 5:4
Jesus had also given a symmetrical statement in in the book of John.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” – John 16: 20
The question is, are we really comforted as our Lord Jesus had assured us. Many believers in Christ did not have an answer for this as they were waiting to be comforted. Few believers had gladly accepted the valley of Baca in their life thinking it was the will of God. But contrary to their thinking, Jesus had assured us of joy instead of the valley of Baca.
There are five main aspects which prevent us from changing our sorrow in to joy:-
- Lack of knowledge of the Word
- Lack of true repentance
All these reasons are dovetailed and work together in our life in order to retain us in the same condition, but we do not realize this as these are inculcated in our behavior because of our passion for the trivial things of the world. This is paraphrased in the book of Jeremiah for our benefit.
16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. 17 I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me, for you had filled me with indignation. 18 Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? 19 Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. – Jeremiah 15: 16 – 19.
Lack of knowledge of the Word
Jeremiah brought out our lack of knowledge of the Living Word in verse 16. Taking the word instantly with joy, without realising the context of the word and applying it wrongly, leads to disappointment. Many crusades bear the banner of John 16:20 but though the preacher explains it elaborately, many do not understand it but take it as a magical word, ‘my sorrow will turn into joy’. They fail to understand how it will work in their lives. Likewise, by witnessing or reading a testimony, most people expect the same to happen in their life, without knowing the transformation that took place in the life of the person who shared that testimony. These things give instant happiness to a believer who is in a church or in a crusade. But as soon as they leave that place, that happiness disappears.
Jeremiah brought out the attitude of self-righteousness in verse 17. People pick convenient laws from the Bible to present themselves as righteous persons and attain satisfaction from doing so. This means that we are still under the law. More than the satisfaction derived out of fulfilling the law, the satisfaction in judging others according to the law overrides our priority. Hurting a sinner by quoting the word of God, not appropriate to the situation has become a common phenomenon among believers, forgetting that this word became flesh 2000 years ago to save the sinners.
Verse 18 depicts the plight of those who fall under the two categories given above. It contradicts the statement given in verse 16. While quoting the word for others, we are unable to apply the word in our own life. In verse 16, though we say that we feel happy in the Living word, the unwanted gossip gives us happiness. We deny to hear the hush of His voice which echoes in our heart but we say that the word is our happiness. Word, if it blesses us, is wonderful or if it teaches us something it is good but if it convicts us, we do not like to read it further. But we say the word is our happiness. This is hypocrisy, which God does not like.
Lack of true repentance
To save us from this pathetic situation, God tells us to repent in Verse 19. Are we repenting? Without repentance there is no forgiveness. To repent, we have to identify the evil in us and admit it and then the confession follows.
“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” – Proverb 8:13
Do we really hate evil? We hate evil in order to uphold our image or because of the fear of the society in which we live. We do not hate evil because of the fear of the Lord. We have to hate evil realizing that Jesus had suffered because of our sin, when we were still sinners. If we start exercising this simple truth in our life, we are saved.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13
When we keep on growing in Lord Jesus, the steps we once followed to completely rely on Him withdraws and we start standing on our own. In due course of time, we become performance oriented people. Achievements become our priority and we ignore the one who helped us to achieve. The talks about the ministry that we are doing steals our time and we forget to talk about Jesus. The Psalmist in Psalms 84:5 unveils the technique by which they made Baca a place of spring because their strength was in God and their desire was Zion. Jesus was appraising His disciples as to why they were going to be sad for some time.
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” – John 16:16
The sorrow is because they would no longer be able to see Him in His physical body, but definitely we can feel His presence even today, when we seek Him. Due to the absence of His Physical appearance, we try to flee from our challenging situation and rely on our own methods to overcome it. The disciples were only able to shut them inside a room. They were filled with fear, they were sorrowful, but when Jesus appeared, they were filled with Joy. In the same place where they were sad they became happy. Situation did not change. Their hearts were transformed to experience the mighty presence of God.
God’s Soothing Assurance
God never forsakes us. Hence, God in His Mercy asks us to leave worthless things and remind us to talk about Him. The creator of heavens and earth wants to delegate His authority to us. We will be like His mouth, whatever we speak will happen. Shall we return to Him whole heartedly?
“Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth.” – Jeremiah 15:19
May we seek our Lord Jesus diligently and be filled with Joy. Our sorrow will turn into Joy. Our Valley of Baca will turn into a place of spring.